Oct. 1, 2008
LOS ANGELES - The No. 2 UCLA men's water polo team (4-1) returns to action against No. 7 Long Beach State (7-5) in an MPSF contest Saturday, Oct. 4. Game time at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center is slated for 4 p.m. Saturday's contest marks the first MPSF contest for either team this season.
UCLA finished second in the NorCal Tournament (Sept. 20-21), marking the team's highest finish at the annual tournament since finishing first in 2002. The Bruins snapped an eight-game losing streak to California with their 6-4 semifinal victory, and Chay Lapin recorded 45 saves in the cage over four matches. USC edged UCLA in the first-place match by a 6-5 margin, scoring the game-winning goal with one second remaining in regulation.
UCLA will host its next two games before competing in the annual SoCal Tournament (Oct. 11-12). The Bruins open MPSF play against Long Beach State (Oct. 4) at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center before hosting Loyola Marymount in a non-conference game (Oct. 9) at Sunset Canyon Recreation Center. This season's SoCal Tournament will be hosted by Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine.
Senior Krsto Sbutega scored a career-high five goals in UCLA's win at UC Irvine on Sept. 13 in both teams' season openers. Sbutega became the first Bruin to score five or more goals in a game since Sept. 22, 2007, when Scott Davidson netted five goals in a 12-11, sudden-victory overtime win against UC Irvine. That week, Sbutega earned MPSF Mikasa Co-Player of the Week honors. Sbutega followed his five-goal effort at UC Irvine with a four-goal game in the NorCal Tournament against Pacific.
The Bruins welcome back 13 letterwinners in 2008, including All-America goalkeeper Chay Lapin and two honorable mention All-America selections, senior Krsto Sbutega and junior Scott Davidson. In all, UCLA's roster features three seniors, seven juniors, three sophomores and 12 freshmen (five expected to redshirt). The Bruins' other two seniors - Chris Allen and Russell Simpkins - will solidify a defense backed by Lapin, who has started 36 games the past two seasons in the cage.
UCLA returns its top two scorers from the 2007 squad. Junior Scott Davidson led the way with 49 goals and senior Krsto Sbutega followed with 35 goals last season. Davidson earned second-team All-MPSF honors after having scored at least one goal in each of UCLA's final 14 games (31 goals in that span). Sbutega finished second on the team in both points and steals (24) and ranked first among all Bruins in assists (25) as a junior.
After scoring 27 goals as a true freshman last fall, Hohl has continued displaying his prolific scoring ability as a sophomore. Through five matches, the Atherton, Calif., resident has scored six goals. Hohl recorded a season-high three goals in UCLA's 8-3 win over Pepperdine in the second round of the NorCal Tournament (Sept. 20). Hohl has totaled 33 goals in 33 career matches.
IN THE CAGE
Junior goalkeeper Chay Lapin has recorded 56 saves through the Bruins' first five games, logging 11 saves or more in four matches. At the NorCal Tournament, Lapin made 45 stops in four games, allowing just 4.5 goals per game. In the first-place match against No. 2 USC, Lapin recorded a season-high 13 saves. Last season, the Long Beach, Calif., resident posted a 6.90 goals against average before earning second-team All MPSF and All-America honors.
HOME SWEET HOME
The Bruins will host six home matches - four at Sunset Canyon Recreation Center and two at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center. UCLA faces Long Beach State (Oct. 4) and Stanford (Oct. 18) at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center. The Bruins host Loyola Marymount (Oct. 9), Brown (Oct. 19), UC Irvine (Nov. 7) and UC San Diego (Nov. 9) at Sunset Canyon Recreation Center.
AT THE HELM
In his 10th season as head coach of the men's water polo team, Adam Krikorian has tallied a 180-55 career record at UCLA. A four-year water polo letterwinner and 1997 UCLA graduate, Krikoriam has been a part of 14 national championships in 16 seasons with the water polo program. As head coach of the men's and women's programs, Krikorian has guided UCLA to 10 national titles (three men's, seven women's). Krikorian led the Bruins to three national championships as an assistant coach and one NCAA title as a player (1995).